This being my first contribution to the Patriot Statesman, I thought it might be fitting to start out with a topic that I talk a lot about. The entire basis for my political theory can be rested on this one basic principle. I think that it is vitally important to get back to the fundamentals if we have a chance to redeeming our once great nation.
I am a philosopher by formal training, and so I think it appropriate to take a philosophical approach on the matter. Let us first dissect what a particular political buzzword actually means.
Presidents have been talking about promoting Democracy for years. Elected officials, public office candidates, and even those citizens who are voting them into office consider Democracy to be a good thing, an American thing, and something worth promoting. Showing my hand, against my better judgement, I submit to you that Democracy is inherently unjust and is an ideal that should be shunned when compared to the heritage of the United States of America.
Democracy is often understood by many to mean “rule of people”. Indeed, that is the etymological definition of the word. I could pull a philosopher’s/politician’s/lawyer’s card and say something like, “All rulers are people, thus all nations are inherently a Democracy,” but that would be dishonest. The truth and current semantic definition is rule by the majority. When discussing Rule of Man, which a Democracy is, it is important to understand the nature of the foundation of this Rule. In this case, we should analyze the nature of Man.
I’m not sure if you’ve taken a look around society lately, but as far as I can tell, people are inherently selfish and self-serving. If you don’t believe me, observe it yourself. Are people quicker to practice Kant’s Categorical Imperative, or Ayn Rand’s exaltation of self? Our society is inherently selfish. Just watch Television for fifteen minutes. We are bombarded with phrases like, “____ that you deserve.” The right wing is especially guilty of this, since almost all of our policies are aimed at preservation of the rights of the individual. Some go so far as to wish to maintain bad policies like Social Security because they would rather pass the debt on to the next generation than to suffer an injustice for the greater good.
Essentially, people are selfish. I heard it most eloquently stated by a friend who summed it up: “People are just no damn good.”
A Democracy assumes that all men are inherently good and will always act with best intentions for the group at heart, even if it means taking a hit personally. I have yet to meet enough people who are of voting age and have acted this way 75% of their lives to populate a small town. Are we to assume, then, that everyone with voting rights behaves this way? If we believe in the gospel of Democracy, then we already exhibit such amazing faith in humanity without even realizing it.
Democracy is easily translated into two words: Mob Rule. If the majority decided that it was in the majority’s best interest to commandeer your property to turn it into a public gathering place, then the majority would vote on it and the majority would then proceed to legally steal from an individual for the good of the majority. Utilitarian ethics at its finest, and a dumbed down example of our current system.
We all know what a law is. It is a rule enforced by the government in whatever form it takes. I like to think of Law as the great equalizer. We are all under the same laws and play by the same rules. Welcome to the Constitution, and welcome to common sense. There is a reason that the Republican Party is referred to as the Grand Old Party. (I do not agree with political parties, but that’s for another time) When Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government we would have, he responded: ”A republic, if you can keep it.” Ah, yes.. a republic. Rule by law and representatives.
What we have, in effect, is a democratic republic ruled by the law of the Constitution. Everything in the Constitution was written in such a way as to protect individuals from oppression and to severely limit the government’s allowed actions and to precisely as possible enumerate what the government may or may not do. Specific functions are given to the federal branches of government with the rest to be left to the individual States. All legislative action are voted on and performed by individuals who have been elected by the population to represent them. That is, they are elected into a position of public service. (emphasis on service) The Bill of Rights was considered overkill to the point that it was actually opposed. My guess is that people found it offensive that something so obvious needed to be made official… like an insult to the public intellect. Nevertheless, it passed, and thank God that it did.
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
- No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
- In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Public servants are sovereign individuals first, and public servants second by necessity. All sovereign individuals are under the same law. Of course, not everyone follows the rules (as with any rule-guided system including board games, card games, sporting games, and so on).
Compromise of the Law
When a majority votes in favor of new legislation (regardless of motive), it should first be inspected and found to be legal. This, my friends, is rarely performed anymore. I could have titled this “Democracy: Who Needs It?” or “Know Thy Laws” or some other such call to controversy. The purpose of this article is to implore the reader to inspect their own beliefs, voting record, and favored candidates and to check for consistency with the law.
We all have opinions. We all have our own moral codes. In regards to politics, we all have only one thing in common: the law. The law is the foundation for the Republic. If we start to chip away at it to suit our desires, we have opened the window for others to do the same. If you chip away at the foundation from both sides, eventually the house which stands upon it will stand no more.
Example of Law and Good Will
This is a transcript of Davy Crockett’s “Not Yours to Give” speech that illustrates the balance of Law and Good Will nicely. The slap on the wrist came from a sovereign individual: a farmer.
|click -> Not Yours to Give.